Based: Ft. Bragg, N.C.
1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
Supporting: Operation Enduring Freedom
Died: June 10, 2005
High School: St. Mary's High School (Stockton)
"It`s been a little over a year since you have been gone. Not a day goes by that i havent`t thought of you. We talk about you a lot on the team. I pass on all the stuff you tought me on to the new guys, so in my mind your still with us. We are getting ready for another trip to the desert. It is going to be strange not having you watching my back, but i guess that is how it goes. You will never be forgotten. Until we meet again pal.--Operational Detachment Alpha 732
--Keith of FT BRAGG
From the LA Times:
Victor Cervantes didn't let any challenge get past him without grabbing it by the tail and hopping on for a ride.
And he would always do it with a twinkle in his eye, recalled friends mourning the death of the 27-year-old Army Special Forces sergeant first class, who was killed June 10 by insurgent small-arms fire in southeastern Afghanistan.
He once told longtime friend Rene Bayardo that he was inside a tank on Army maneuvers when it unexpectedly rolled over. Everyone scrambled out, unhurt.
"That's hard to do -- roll a tank -- but it seemed to amuse him. It fit with his personality. He liked to push the envelope," said Bayardo, 26, of Falls Church, Va.
Cervantes' taste for thrills made him drive too fast at times, Bayardo remembered with a chuckle.
During his eight years in the military, the soldier threw himself into challenging sports such as mountain biking and rock climbing, sometimes entering competitions.
"When he did something, he did it all the way," Bayardo said.
Former classmates said that was true even when Cervantes attended St. Mary's High School in Stockton, where he grew up.
Cervantes, his sister and their two best friends joined the Catholic school's badminton team. While the others played for fun, Cervantes played to win, and spent long hours perfecting his technique.
"Victor was really into it, and he was really good," said Issac Boutte, 27, of Fresno.
Cervantes also trained hard on the wrestling team, showing that he could be good-natured as well as competitive.
"The coach would yell at us," Boutte said. "It really bothered some of us, but Victor never seemed to mind. He was always mellow and relaxed."
He planned to have a military career, said Adena Rollins, 28, of Lathrop, Calif., a close friend for 15 years.
To those around Cervantes, it was evident that he had found his calling. When Rollins attended Cervantes' boot camp graduation in Kentucky, "I saw exactly how much he loved what he was doing. To say he was grinning from ear to ear is an understatement."
Cervantes began training for the Special Forces in 1999. The weapons sergeant was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Ft. Bragg, N.C., and had been in Afghanistan since February.
"He would tell anyone he met how proud he was to serve his country," Rollins said.
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks motivated him even more, she said. "He took that event personally," Rollins said. "He knew that what he was doing in Afghanistan was in response to 9/11, and he fully supported that."
At his request, Cervantes' tombstone was inscribed with the words "Freedom is not free," his family said in a statement.
Cervantes is survived by his parents, Fidel and Nisla, and a sister, Elizabeth, all of Stockton.
Read more about Army Sergeant Victor H. Cervantes at Special Forces
and at Military Times.
Visit Sergeant Cervantes' Guest Book.
Army Sergeant Victor H. Cervantes previously remembered at Boom3